This week my daughter started school. With high anticipation, and a bit of anxiety, we hand over our food allergic child to someone else. Her teacher amused us by letting us explain the ins and outs of her particular allergies, but were we taken seriously? Who knows. We were rushed out with a smile, I knew she was thinking, “Crazy over-protective parents!” The whole thing left me feeling sick. Ultimately, Autumn will have to look out for herself as she moves ahead in life. We can’t rely on anyone else to care about our children the way we do and watch everything they do – the way we do, its just not going to happen.
U.S. News and World Report just ran a story about Children with food allergies, facing skepticism. We’ve faced this type of skepticism for sure, but if they love us and want to be part of our lives, they eventually come around. I did have one old friend who for some reason thought we were making all this up, this was hurtful, but I decided my daughter’s safety was more important that this friendship and I made a choice. I’ve chalked it up to just being a casualty of growing apart, rather than blame the allergies. But for the most part, we’ve had the support and understanding of our friends and family. They don’t always remember what it is she’s allergic to, but they are caring, concerned and understanding.
To help put my mind at ease, I’m having my daughter practice eating with her lunchbox while she’s at home, encouraging her to wash her hands and be careful. We’ve gone over what to do if she’s feeling ill and how to use the EpiPen. She knows the rules. She knows what to do. It’s really all we can do.
If you know someone whose child has a life-threatening food allergy, support them, believe them – they need it. If you are a grandparent of a child with food allergies, go the extra mile to learn about that allergy and how to use an EpiPen. If you are a teacher and a child in your class has food allergies, take it seriously, take the time to talk with the parents and listen to their concerns. If someone on an airplane asks you to put away your nuts due to an allergy, be understanding and put them away. There’s no doubt about it, we are over-protective parents, but we need to be.
Until next time,